On June 16th the Puppy will be four-and-a-half years old. In that four-and-a-half years, he’s trimmed his toenails exactly never. I’m sorry; does that gross you out? Yesterday I found Kitten washing her pacifier in the toilet. There, that should put “gross” into perspective for you.
The toenail thing wasn’t a big deal until a couple of days ago. Kids’ nails are pretty soft, really, so Puppy’s would peel away before they started growing back into his foot. Eventually, though, the nails firm up, and eventually came ‘round last week. I noticed one of Puppy’s toenails had curled in on itself and was starting to press into his toe pad. It’s was kind of cute, actually—like this delicate little rosebud with mortally-sharp edges. Imagine a pale pink ninja throwing star. Husband announced it was time, at long last, for Puppy to submit to a toenail clipping, and approached Puppy with the clippers. Puppy immediately and in one go played every card in his preschool negotiator deck—I’ll get dressed for school! I’ll put away the Kindle! I’ll share with sister! You can trim them when I’m five! When I’m five! When I’m fiiiiiiive!
It’s remarkable, the strength of an almost four-and-a-half-year-old. Husband would have had to put him in a Fujiwara armbar to subdue him—though, really, that’s more appropriate for clipping fingernails. Suffice it to say, Puppy won that round. No matter how baseless a kid’s fear, (he lets us trim his fingernails with barely a glimmer of awareness) one has to draw the line at wrestling holds that leave a mark.
Puppy is similarly risk-adverse with narrative. He doesn’t like stories with conflict, or movies with even a whisper of menace. Can you imagine how this limits our nighttime reading selection? He has approximately one hundred picture books on his shelf, but rejects one title after another because he doesn’t like it when the elephant falls off the cliff, or the bear hibernates on the monkey, or the llama shrieks for his mama, or the mouse draws a mean picture of her teacher.*
I’ve extolled the restorative effects of catharsis; I’ve decried the tedium—the glassy-eyed, vegetative tedium—of Utopia; I’ve explained that one can’t have light without dark, good without evil… Still he chooses Caillou over Frozen, every time. (Frozen has wolves, you may recall. And that Frankenstein’s monster of snow. Caillou has Canadians.)
Speaking of abrupt segues, I’ve been compiling a list of spelling errors I find in communiqués from my kids’ teachers. It’s a depressing exercise, but it’s the only exercise I get since having kids. I find the richest fodder in the teachers’ “portfolio-my-day” entries, wherein they’re meant to post pictures*** of the kids’ daily activities and compose a little spiel about the importance of water-color spatters on paper towels to the development of a child’s pre-frontal core tax.
Below is a sampling from my manifesto list. Please note, I’ve omitted errors that could easily be attributed to typos. But, if the same typo-like error appears more than twice in one post (such as site when the writer meant sit), it goes on the list. Yes, there are rules. I’ve also declined to record errors in punctuation or usage— the their/there/they’re or to/too transgressions—because to do so would be to transcribe the posts in their entirety, and I’ve got my own posts to write.
- Expaned (expand)
- Cafine (caffeine)
- Smills (smiles)
- Her self
- Peek a bow
- Mates (mats)
- Resonantly (recently)
- Site (sit)
- Should (showed)
- Impromtive (impromptu)
- Sipy (sippy)
- Looks (locks)
- Importants (importance)
- Exited (excited)
- Ribbite (the sound a frog makes)
I’ve also found examples of correct spelling that, juxtaposed with the errors noted above, are astonishing: tactile, parallel, experiment, experience, texture, curiosity. It’s what keeps me coming back to portfolio-my-day.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to take a moment to note some aspects of Kitten’s character at one-and-a-half years old. She is fiercely independent. I know all mothers say that of their toddlers, but this is my second tour of toddlerhood and I can confidently say Kitten’s independent streak would kick your kid’s independent streak in the teeth. She doesn’t just push your hand away when you try to give her a little boost into her car seat; she tears your arm off at the shoulder and uses it as a vaulting pole. This baby is going to do it by herself, goddammit, and hold on to your appendages if you try to get close.
Also, she’s particular in her reading preferences. She’ll let you read anything to her, so long as it’s All of Baby Nose to Toes. If you present a different book, Kitten will give you time to open it and read one page before slipping her hand around the back of the book and slamming it shut on your fingers. Then she points to the stack of books on the dresser and dares you to try another. But, for All of Baby Nose to Toes she’s content to sit through the reading without violence, and even interact with the story—playing peekaboo, sniffing at the rose, squealing at the rubber ducky… I suspect there’s doctoral dissertation about that book in her future.
Finally, she’s my sunshine girl. That about sums her up right now. Thanks for reading!
*Timothy and the Strong Pajamas (twice), Llama Llama Red Pajama, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.
**I wanted to name the Puppy English. True story. I advocated for it with terrific zeal. Husband balked, of course. Killjoy. I also campaigned to name Kitten Sonnet. I relented on that one when everyone to whom I proposed the name replied, “Sonic?” You’re welcome, Kitten.
***Don’t even get me started on their photo compositions. Teachers, please—pictures of the tops of my kids’ heads are not illuminating (she types, as though she’d ever tell the teachers about her blog).